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Buspar (Buspirone) Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Do They Last?

Buspar (Buspirone) is an anxiolytic drug that is used as a safer treatment option for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Many doctors prescribe Buspar to their patients’ for anxiety because the benzodiazepine class of medications like Xanax carry significant withdrawal effects and are linked to dementia. Many of the benzodiazepines are also highly addictive with potential for abuse – Buspar does not carry this risk.

This is a drug in the azapirone chemical class that functions as a partial serotonin receptor agonist and influences dopamine to a lesser degree. It also does not function the same as an SSRI medication, but may be used as an augmentation strategy to help increase libido and energy. Many people end up withdrawing from Buspar because they try it and realize that it’s not really doing much of anything.

This is a medication that works well for select individuals, but it may not do much of anything in others – even at higher doses. For these reasons, it is obvious that most people that end up taking it will eventually stop. Most doctors and psychiatrists will suggest that there are no withdrawal effects that you need to be concerned with – and for the most part, they are correct. However, there are still reports of individuals experiencing withdrawal symptoms while coming off of Buspar.

Factors that may influence Buspar withdrawal include

Since there are no major withdrawal symptoms associated with Buspar, whether you quit cold turkey or taper doesn’t really matter. Most people’s individual physiology will determine how they respond to this medication (e.g. whether it actually works) as well as whether they experience any withdrawal symptoms.

1. Time Span

How long were you taking Buspar? If you were on it for an extended period of time at a higher dose, there is a greater chance that you are going to experience some sort of “withdrawal” symptoms when you stop taking it. Those that were on Buspar for a shorter duration are not likely going to experience a withdrawal.

2. Dosage (5 mg, 10mg, 15mg, 30mg)

As with any medication, usually when you are on a higher dose, it has more of an impact on the brain and nervous system. If you were on the highest dose of Buspar, you may want to consider tapering back down to a lower dose before you quit.  Most doctors and psychiatrists will advise people to simply quit cold turkey.

3. Individual Physiology

Everyone reacts differently to being treated with Buspar. Some people experience anxiety relief and find that the drug works great. Others find that it doesn’t do much of anything to aid in the relief of anxiety. Certain people respond well to lower doses, while others require higher dosages to get a good effect. Your individual physiology will play a role in determining whether you experience any symptoms following discontinuation.

4. Cold turkey vs. Tapering

Most doctors suggest that there is no major discontinuation syndrome associated with Buspar. This means that many people are able to quit taking the medication cold turkey and notice absolutely zero withdrawal effects. With that said, if you have been on the medication for an extended period of time at a higher dose, you may want to still taper.

The half life of Buspar is very short (3 to 5 hours), so lowering your dose by 5 mg per day is recommended if you want to play it safe. If you want to play things ultra safe, reduce your dose by 10% every month. The only reason a person may want to consider tapering is if they were on a high dose for an extended period of time.

Buspar Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Although most people don’t report any major withdrawal symptoms from taking Buspar, others do experience a withdrawal. Compared to other classes of medications such as benzodiazepines or SSRI’s, coming off of Buspar should be relatively easy. If you experience a withdrawal period, it should be relatively short-lived. Below are some symptoms that have been reported from stopping Buspar.

  • Anxiety: Most people take this drug to help with anxiety. When they stop taking it, it may lead to an increase in anxiety and nervousness. If you are coming off of Buspar and your anxiety skyrockets, just know that it will return to a normal level.
  • Fatigue: Some people get really tired when they stop taking this drug. Usually the fatigue and lethargy doesn’t last for an extended period of time. The first few days you stop taking this medication may result in you feeling tired, but this will go away.
  • Dizziness: This is yet another common symptom associated withdrawal from most drugs. Fortunately the dizziness that you may experience when coming off of Buspar is not going to be nearly as intense as that associated with SSRI’s.
  • Drowsiness: There are reports of drowsiness upon discontinuation of this medication. Once again give things a few days and this symptom will subside.
  • Headache: This is a very general symptom associated with stopping any psychiatric medication. If you develop a headache, just know that this is extremely common.
  • Insomnia: Since Buspar works well for anxiety, this helps some individuals fall asleep at night. Anxiety in itself is very stimulating and can keep people awake. If they experience rebound anxiety when they stop taking Buspar, it may lead to insomnia.
  • Lightheadedness: Some people experience lightheadedness as a withdrawal symptom.
  • Nausea: There have been reports that people experienced nausea when they stopped Buspar. Fortunately there weren’t any reports of vomiting that accompany the nausea. If you feel nauseated for a few days after you begin withdrawal, this will go away.

How long does Buspar withdrawal last?

Let’s rephrase the question: “Is there such thing as Buspar withdrawal?” For most people, there are no notable symptoms that occur when they stop taking Buspar. Therefore there really is no withdrawal period. With that said, if you are one of the individuals that do experience withdrawal symptoms, it is important to know that they should subside quickly. Most people will not experience any sort of discontinuation effects after they have been off the drug for a couple weeks.

If you are having a difficult time with the withdrawal process, make sure you are engaging in healthy activities such as: getting plenty of exercise, eating good foods, getting plenty of sleep, and socializing. By engaging in healthy activities, your brain will return to homeostatic functioning sooner than it otherwise would. You should also keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to medications.

Although most people do not experience a withdrawal, there are people that have reported unpleasant symptoms when they stopped Buspar. If you have quit taking this medication and would like to share your experience with “withdrawal” (or lack there of) in the comments section below, it may help someone else coming off of this drug.

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{ 194 comments… add one }
  • Carrie September 21, 2018, 11:49 am

    This medication does have withdrawal effects and the pharmacy, manufacturers and doctors should not say it doesn’t. They are horrible and last weeks. I’m finally all the way off and past the withdrawal issues but they did last four + weeks. It was terrible! I warn people against this medication and will never take it again!

  • Holly September 17, 2018, 1:43 pm

    I was on Buspirone for 2 months with a 15mg dose. I don’t know if it was in conjunction with my antidepressant (20mg of paroxetine), but family members and my boyfriend noticed that I was having short memory lapses.

    They were only small incidents (forgetting to put in a coffee filter when I made a pot of coffee, thinking I had loaded the dishwasher and started it, etc), but it was enough to scare us all. I quit buspar cold turkey 3 days ago and these are the symptoms I have noticed so far:

    -extreme thirst
    -super groggy feeling for a few hours upon waking up (has happened both from taking a nap and getting a full night’s sleep)
    -feeling lethargic

  • Charles September 15, 2018, 8:39 pm

    I took buspar for two months and it made me dizzy, but I kept taking it because it made me feel good some days, but other days I felt worse. It was like it was making me bipolar. Then I started having panic attacks, which I never had before taking it; I just had generalized anxiety.

    So I decided to quit taking it suddenly (maybe a mistake) and got severe withdrawal symptoms – dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, trembling, hot flashes, severe anxiety. These lasted a couple weeks and then subsided some, but now, seven weeks after stopping buspar, I’m having those symptoms again, plus stomach pains probably from the anxiety.

    I went to the ER a couple times it was so bad. Every doctor I’ve seen says it couldn’t be buspar withdrawal after seven weeks, but they can’t find anything else wrong with me. I don’t want to resume taking it this long after stopping, to then taper off, because I think the drug was bad for me. Any suggestions?

  • Alison September 14, 2018, 6:35 am

    My psychiatrist took me off Buspar 10 mg cold turkey a couple weeks ago. I have been taking Buspar for well over 10 years. This last week is the worst I have felt since before being treated initially 17 years ago for panic disorder.

    My chest is tight, I feel tingling, dizzy, and just an all over feeling of impending doom. I started myself back on it tonight. Getting off the Buspar is the only thing that has changed. I was close to going to the ER and then my husband and I put 2 and 2 together on not taking the Buspar anymore.

    I agree, I wish people wouldn’t say there are no withdrawals. I haven’t been able to leave my house for a week. Wishing you all good mental health.

  • Susan September 1, 2018, 3:21 pm

    I have been on buspar for 3 weeks. I got up to 10 mg a day, I had a panic attack and ended up in the ER. My muscles were so tight that I could hardly walk. I don’t know what to do at this point! I am tired of living with anxiety and worry. I actually feel like the buspar is making me depressed too.

  • Shawn September 1, 2018, 1:38 am

    Here is my experience with Buspar that I’ve taken for 10 months at 30mg per day. First tapered down from 30 to 25 to 20mg a day within 3 weeks as per Pdocs orders. (I couldn’t stand the side effects anymore).

    By day 3 into the taper, I noticed slight depression, which I never have experienced in my life. Once the 20mg mark came around these are the other symptoms I experienced:

    -Some nights of insomnia
    -No sex drive
    -Tension like headaches
    -A feeling of rage or extreme irritability upon waking up. (Never had anger or rage issues in the past)
    -Anxiety
    -Depression
    -Body temperature changes
    -Freezing cold calves and feet
    -Dizziness
    -Fatigue

    Now the 20 mg point is where I held for a month. Reluctantly, my doctor wanted to taper me faster, from 20 to 0mg within a month. As I began, the taper wasn’t half bad. However, 9 days after being totally off Buspar every symptom came surging back and is more intense.

    Can anyone relate to the anger or hostile feelings? This one really bothers me. I also have daily, long lasting tension headaches. The ones right behind the eyes…

    • April September 14, 2018, 10:53 pm

      My daughter was so angry and mean on Buspar!! She’s much better now that she’s off it. Not quite as angry. Of course she is completely off and now has insomnia. Ugh.

    • Shawn September 15, 2018, 3:56 am

      So I wanted to write an update to how I’ve been since coming off 10 months of Buspar use at about 30mg. It’s been roughly 5 weeks and I am starting to feel somewhat normal.

      The only things I feel now, which don’t happen very often are these.
      -Jaw tension
      -Neck tension
      -Headaches behind the eyes (Could be tension headaches)
      -Some nervousness when waking in the am

      Every other symptom I mentioned above has drastically subsided. I’ll update again at the 10 week mark. Hope all of you are doing well!

  • Candace August 26, 2018, 1:43 pm

    I was accidentally decreased by my pharmacist and didn’t know it, I had been on buspar for 12 years. My higher dose of 60 mg a day began in 2013. He gave me 30 mg a day by mistake, I thought I was taking my usual dose. I immediately felt the impact, major anxiety, 229/99 BP, had to go to the emergency room, they thought I was having a heart attack!

    My doctor was telling me that I only had 1-2 years to live! Echocardiogram was done, blood pressure continued to be high, changed my dose. I felt so bad!!! I was lethargic, anxious, and wanted to be left alone. It was a horrendous experience. :(

  • Deb August 12, 2018, 8:15 pm

    I have been on only 5 mg per day for 7 years. I also saw a behavioral therapist for a few sessions to help me successfully manage my anxiety. The buspirone was just enough of a dose to take the edge off and the behavioral techniques added to the treatment.

    Twice however, I missed my daily dose; and a few hours after the missed dose I woke up with a lot of banging in my head which scared me. When I realized I missed the dose I took it, the banging subsided almost immediately, but I ended up with vertigo and had to go for physical therapy for positional treatment.

    I am still on 5mg Buspirone 1x daily and feel good, but there are certainly withdrawal symptoms. I am not used to taking meds, so 5 mg is even a lot for me. Doing well now and plan to stay on this low dose.

  • Chloe August 1, 2018, 5:11 pm

    I only went on this drug for a week and had bad side effects. Once I stopped taking it (I was only at 15mg) my anxiety has gotten so much worse. I am scared I won’t go back to any sort of normal even though my normal was not the best either.

  • Dema July 21, 2018, 2:57 am

    I took Buspar (15mg a day) for about 5 month. It helped a lot with panic attacks and anxiety. However I could still feel some of the anxiety symptoms every now and the. My problem with Buspar was that it made me a different person. It is hard to explain but I didn’t feel myself.

    Just about 3 weeks ago older couple I met told me about CBD oil. They told me to use highest quality CBD oil I could find. After reading about it I decided to try it. Long story short, it is working. I take 7.5mg of Buspar in the morning and CBD oil in the afternoon.

    I felt panicky the first week but now I am much better. Most importantly I feel as I have always felt before. I can concentrate better. Anxiety fear is mostly gone. Forgot to mention earlier that my anxiety started after quitting weed about a year ago. I’m not a junkie. I have never abused any drugs other than weed.

    I strongly recommend trying CBD oil. Im only posting this to help people out. I have read every material on anxiety and panic attacks out there. Trying to save the next reader some time. (This is my first ever such post online)

  • Donna July 12, 2018, 1:08 pm

    I have been on this medication a year. Taking 15 mg a day. Lately I decided to not take it unless I really need it. I am in withdrawals now. It is so bad that I am horribly sick.

    I renewed my script yesterday and is back on my dose. Still having symptoms. Hope it subside soon. I wish this article didn’t downplay withdrawal so much. It does happen.

    • Em August 3, 2018, 11:14 pm

      I’ve tried to reduce my ~15 – 17.5 mg dose and found it made me feel “not so great, but not sick.” Weird, like that feeling you get when you think you may be getting the flu. For now, am going to resume my normal dosage until after I see an endocrinologist next week.

      The medication definitely resolved some serious anxiety issues, but like a respondent below, not completely. It may also be affecting my ability to concentrate and remember things. I also take .25 mg Xanax at night and on rare occasion during the day.

  • voyteck July 8, 2018, 5:56 pm

    This drug destroyed me. I took 30 mg for only 1 month! First, I had to taper for 5 months. Now, after 2 months I am still in withdrawal!

    Most important:
    -no libido (!!!)
    -inner tension, restlessness
    -horrible thirst and dry mouth
    -poor appetite (losing weight)
    -hangover-like headaches (those luckily gone since a few weeks)
    -sleep problems

    I’d like to get in contact with someone who had similar issues and found some solutions.

    • Shawn July 10, 2018, 11:16 pm

      I’ve had similar things happen. Some insomnia, anger or hostile feelings for no reason, no libido, anxiety and a near panic attack. Depression, which I never get.

      My stomach hurts at random times. I also get little zappy feelings across my brain. I went from 30 to 20mg in 3 weeks. My doctor said I could cut 5mg a week. I’m stuck at 20 and contemplating going back up to 25.

    • Barbara August 13, 2018, 7:50 am

      I have also had little to no libido and very dry mouth at night. Another symptom I think is related is tingling in my feet at night. I also take Wellbutrin for depression. Taking Buspar for situational anxiety and stress from an overbearing boss. Boss retired, so I’m going to try getting off the Buspar.

    • Tim w August 29, 2018, 9:43 pm

      I took it for two months. Quit cold turkey a month ago and I am still feeling the side effects. It has put me in the state of mind that I can’t do anything. I’m sick and I don’t like leaving home because of the sickness. You tapered off and still feeling it hasn’t gotten any better? I went to the doctors twice. They tested me and nothing – just going through withdrawals.

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